Work from Home
“You don't gotta go to Work, work, work, work, work, work, work But you gotta put in Work, work, work, work, work, work, work You don't gotta go to Work, work, work, work, work, work, work Let my body do the Work, work, work, work, work, work, work, work” - Fifth Harmony
“Work, work, work, work, work, work You see me I be work, work, work, work, work, work You see me do me dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt There's something 'bout that Work, work, work, work, work, work” - Robyn Rihanna Fenty
It was a cold October night as Brand-N stumbled through the streets of Metropolis. It was the witching hour, after the clubs closed and the revelers had given up and gone to bed, but before the hot-to-trot soccer moms began their early-morning power walks. As he shuffles silently and alone through the frigid 58-degree air, the world around him begins to move. Dumpsters roll in front of him, brooms fly past him, sweeping the ground, hoses dance through the air like snakes, washing away the vomit of the previous few hours.
He tries to conjure up his original joy for this magical wonderland as he steps forward.
“Ow! What the?”
A swift hit to his side and a knock on his knees sends him falling to the ground.
“God Damnit!” He tries to push himself up, wondering what he had done to offend the ghouls of the night.
He taps his temple and his augmented reality switches off. Around him whir 1,352 Grips, racing to clean the streets. He looks and sees two women and a 6-year-old child pleading to him, muted by their noise canceling chips, begging for any help.
As he looks at the poor child in rags and the two women, he feels a tinge of sympathy. But then one of the women turns and he's forced to see a roll of fat visible just above her jeans. It bulges over the waistband and disgusts him as his field of vision is assaulted by stretch marks and spider veins on her flabby flesh.
“Begone, Demons!” He howls as he taps on his augmented reality, making these hideous humans disappear. But its too late, and he pukes three times in a 120-degree arc, hitting two Grips.
He runs, knocking over sixteen Grips as he shouts.
“Move! Get out the way!”
After three blocks, he collapses on a park bench and whines.
“Why? Why is life so hard for me?!”
This was the year anniversary of his naturalization into Metropolis and a wistfulness set in.
“How do I measure a year? 529,600 minutes? In orgies? In booty bumps of glint? Projects for work? In vacations to the party archipelagos of Tahiti, Mykonos, Ibiza and St. Lucia? If everything is sweet- the air, the water, the snacks, the toilets- why do I feel a bitter taste at the back of my throat?”
Even the smell of crisp leaves and apple butter wafting through this fall morning tasted stale.
“Ugh! Why is my life so hard!” He yells up to the domed sky, still stinging from earlier tonight.
All he can think is his life sucks, his job is crap, his apartment is shit and social life is a snooze.
“Fuck it all!”
He had pulled himself to moderate fame in the rarefied Rat Mouth, Florida circles. But here in Metropolis, he was a guppy swimming behind the biggest luxury liners in an ocean awash in wealth. Nowhere was this fact more apparent than when he went clubbing.
The allure of clubbing had been blasted into his brain since birth. A hyper-exclusive atmosphere where the most beautiful women and the most successful men, all in their sharpest threads, gathered together to soak up each other's awesomeness. The images danced tantalizingly in his cerebral cortex. Women gyrating in martini glasses. Men popping bottles of Champagne and baptizing the crowd with bubbles. Hot-pants clad hoochies grinding up on men and each other while shaking their honky-tonk badonkadonks. An air that sparked with the two most powerful Boujee forces: youthful energy and sexual energy.
Two-thirds of all pop songs held these venues as the single most important place. Here, all the transformative moments occurred. How he had longed to bathe in communion with his Haughtie peers in these most privileged environments. And to make love in these clubs!
He remembers how he had waited a month before he felt ready to consecrate himself with the sweat of a 1,000 Boujees that rains in these overcrowded rooms.
That first night!
Even as he waited for three hours outside in line to enter the most exclusive club in Metropolis in the freezing 56-degree winter weather, he felt a sense of serenity, as if he were waiting for the gates of heaven itself to open and welcome him into paradise.
But by hour four, he soured. Every few minutes, another VVVIP pushed past him, skipping the line, and was ushered inside.
He exploded and screamed. “Do you know who I am?!”
The air popped with the collective eye rolls of all 732 Boujees who waited in line with him.
“You're nothing special, you Petty-Plus piece of shit!”
In this exalted atmosphere, they didn't need to know who he was. If he was unknown, he wasn't worth knowing.
When he found his way in, he felt Alpha Haughtie Boujees elbowing him and swiping his shins with their bullet-proof, titanium kicks with the emerald studs. When he looked down, he burned with shame. His shoes only cost $62,750.
As he walked through the rooms of the club, he could feel the vibrations of the loud music shaking every cell in his body. He could barely hear his thoughts, let alone hold a conversation with anyone around him. It was as if clubs were deafeningly loud to drown out the vapidness of its patrons.
But he pushed on.
The space itself was breathtaking. A large fountain shot from the first floor to the third, as a dozen trapeze artists dove in and swam. Above him, thirty chandeliers ignited like disco balls, shooting sparks of white lights through the crowd.
But Brand-N could barely look around. He found himself constantly wedged between sweaty bodies that stampeded together. In the music videos, the dancers were always well-spaced to allow for maximum posing and rhythmic dancing. But crammed together, not a single person could see how deep the V in the neck of his shirt went. No one could ogle the octet of abdominal muscles that stacked like lego blocks, towering through his shirt's opening. With a sigh, he let go, and allowed the crush of the crowd to move him around the dance floor, greased by the sweat of privilege.
“Ok,” he thought to himself. “I am the master of my destiny. I will make the best of this situation.”
He saw a beautiful woman sitting by herself in the corner. He set his phasers to stunning and stepped forward.
“Excuse me, but has anyone ever---”
Before he could finish his sentence, the THOT police swooped in to rescue their woman. As she was subsumed into her squad, one of the members turned to him and teased a klymaxx.
“We've got a meeting in the ladies room... we'll be back real soon.”
As they moved, the men all paused.
Once they were a few feet away, the whole group of women turned, their eyes upcast just above his head to sneer at his pedigree. The women of Metropolis had hacked the augmented reality lenses to create a secret channel for them to rate and rank all of the men. He strained to hear their remarks when they thought they were just out of his earshot.
“Just some hillbilly double-plus Petty. Who invited him?!”
“He doesn't even own a yacht!”
“Ugh, and it looks like he works! You wouldn't want one of those 10-4ers”
“Florida!? Only if you want to be the Countess of a 'gator-swamp.”
The main blonde corralled the others and off they went. Brand-N snapped a photo of her with his eye piece and, in a second, matched this photo to her online identity.
Duchess Trixie Metamucil!
She was the sole heiress to humanity's leading fiber supplement company. Two scoops of her family's concoction helped a billion humans move high-fat foods through their bowls and safely into toilets. Her family was responsible for saving each of these humans 2.3 minutes per poop, which translated into saving the whole of humanity 39 million hours of constipation daily as they strained on their thrones. After automation, her family ran the whole empire from production to shipping to stocking with a staff of only thirteen human Yes-men. The rest of the profits rained over her parents and her like some sort of golden shower.
As that first night ended, he couldn't contain his sorrow. After seeing images of perfectly poised models dancing with great rhythm when he first walked in, the club at closing time looked more like a war zone. Sweaty messes in all states of alcohol poisoning tripped over each other. Blonde hair sticks to faces as splashes of puke creep in the corner of mouths and crop-tops. Ornery men peacock and play fight to impress ladies even though Boujee society had made them all soft. They were still human animals and were hardwired to dominate and perform an alpha-male machismo. Injured women lay on all surfaces: couches, counters, bars, even the floor, nursing their war wounds from that night's battlefield of love. They rubbed their gnarled feet freed from the sky-high stilettos and massaging bruised internal organs after uncracking corsets and de-spanxing.
As the months progressed, he felt himself coming back to these clubs, trapped by an unsatisfied desire to be seen and to be adored. All the Boujees around him appeared to adore this world. Curiosity ached in him.
“What am I missing?”
Each night, he'd get drunk and a little high on a stimulant and stumble around the club, mistaking his lack of balance for genuine enjoyment.
“Whoa! YEAH!” He'd pump his fists in the air and jump around, faking the enthusiasm he felt he should have.
Through the evenings, his amorous attempts at sexual congress would fail. But at closing time, he started to have better luck. Some decisive lady would swoop in, snag him and pull him to her awaiting autocar. With no need for a driver or even a wheel well, he was amazed to see how differently the interiors of these pimped out rides could be decorated: roving gyms, offices, film studios and kitchens with fresh baked cookies. But it was always the ladies whose autocars converted into haram beds or rolling sex dungeons that seemed to snag him.
When one lady snoozed on her autocar's chaise post-coital, he grabbed her vision visor and discovered why he had become so popular. Word of his sexual prowess had spread through the FB>BF app and. With 138 reviews, he had been certified a stud.
“Great fuck, but kick him out before he tries to talk philosophy.”
“Magic fingers, magic tongue and unattached to any upper echelon, so you can drop him like he's hot.”
“9.5in & 8mins of torque.”
The reviews left him both flattered and desolate.
“There's gotta be more to life than chasing down every temporary high to satisfy me!”
But tonight, as his anniversary in Metropolis ended, three women tried to snag him. After 213 distinct trysts this past year, he just wasn't feeling it.
“Is there something wrong with me?” He thought as he shuffled his way through the predawn streets. As Earth turned Metropolis back towards the sun, custom told him he should head home and go to bed.
But even his home left him disgusted. He kicked some rocks, unsure of where to go next.
* * *
Brand-N was originally ecstatic for this steal.
After a month of house hunting intranational, he found a four hundred-square-foot studio in Metropolis' most-exclusive high-end-cozy-living experience building, Nuvo Verselliz. He would be swaddled in luxury, all for the low-low-low price of $49,849,215. The 24-karat gold mirror plating that covered the entire apartment sparkled as the morning sun refracted through the dome. It also created a warm illusion that his apartment was much bigger than it actually was.
The yearly amenities were a gouge to his eye. But it was all worth the price to prove he had made it.
He had hoped when he whispered his address, ladies' knees would buckle and men would scoff and then whimper at his winning impertinence. But all they did was laugh. There homes were just as opulent or even more so!
And then the facade fell apart...
Who could have foreseen that the weight of the four diamond chandeliers installed above his living room-cum-dining room-cum-den-cum-man cave-cum-kitchen-cum-bedroom-cum-cum would warp the gold ceilings. Ugh, how shitty pure gold was! It was just too malleable and bent too easily.
He remembers when he noticed the first dent in perfection. He loved staring up at his Adonis body on his Midas-touched ceiling. He found it soothing to meditate on the the peaks and valleys of his chiseled abs reflected in hues of yellow. But the warping in the ceiling broke up the perfect symmetry of his sculpted body.
He raced to call his fleet of surgeons and was began screaming about his body's lifetime warranty. As he demanded to speak with a manager, he looked at the mirror on his wall.
When he caught his reflection in the floor to ceiling crystal mirror, all his ab muscles stood firm like sentinels guarding his gastrointestinal tract. He hung up on the surgeons' office. In the end, he had to pay a goldsmith every two months to bend back his sagging ceiling.
All at once, his most-prized possession felt cramped. He knew he was young and still had to advance, but it was so hard to have patience on the lowest rung of the social ladder when so much debt kept piling up and pushing him down.
And worst of all was the elevator incident! That misery still festered in him.
* * *
When he entered his apartment building one day, he mistakenly followed an invisible Grip into the elevator, which zoomed up to the grand high penthouse on the 94th floor.
He stepped out into the 3-story penthouse, blinded by walls covered in rubies, emeralds and sapphires. He walked the gold path to the 2-story Trevi-inspired fountain.
“Hello?” He said meekly, hoping to meet his new neighbor. He wasn't above belittling himself to benefit from a benefactor.
In the main vestibule hung a dozen paintings, Van Goghs, Kunzes, Warhols and Harings.
And that smell!
Is that crème brûlée and warm cigar smoke?
“You're laaaaate, dahhhhhhling.” The Dowager Countess Katya Zamolodchikova Zsa Zsa Crawley wore head-to-toe fox fur and fumed. She had been an actress in her teen years, but used it launch a more lucrative career as a sugar baby. The billionaires she bounced between whispered that she was Lenin in the streets, but Dostoevsky in the sheets. A string of deceased husbands and a few decades of brilliant investments allowed her to rise to the top of the Metropolis elite.
“Whooo the heeeellll aaaaare you?” She looked disdainfully at this stranger.
“I'm your new neighbor. On the 23rd floor.” Oh god, noob mistake, he thought. Now she'll know how poor I am.
“How DAAAAARE you enter the paaaaalaaace of the Graaaand Dowaaagerrrr Countesssss!”
Along with taxes and membership fees, Metropolis sold titles of nobility to its new citizens. The hyper-wealthy clamored to remain at the top and forklifted over hundreds of millions of dollars to be knighted Earl, Viscount or Baron and a billion dollars to be dubbed Duke or Duchess.
And oh how this peerage pressure worked!
Within its first year, the High Commission on Nobility had sold 7,364 titles for a total of $2.3 trillion. It was so successful that its commissioner, Baron James Rothschild, was elevated to be Metropolis's first Prince, which bestowed Princess status on his wife, hotel heiress, Nicky Hilton, all to the growing consternation of the Princess's elder spinster sister and foam party DJ, Paris Hilton.
The whole system seemed silly to Brand-N as he would regularly watch the Duchess of 85th street spar with the Duchess of 87th over who got the prime parking spot for their autohorse-drawn carriage in front of their favorite crêperie in the neutral territory of 86 th street.
“Bowww before meeee!” The Dowager Countess demanded.
Brand-N fell to his knees, bowing six times while repeating.
“I'm not worthy!”
“Hm! I hhheaarrr yourrr mocking tooones, you little raaaapscallion! Let me give you some aaadvice before I baaanish you from myyy life. Nothing succeedsss like excessss! Now aaaway with you! You dirrrty skylarkerrrr!”
With the wave of her scepter, four invisible Grips picked him up and heaved him into the elevator.
* * *
With his home and social life in ruins, all he clung to was his work. While in BS-School, he had been a keen student of Higgins and Pickering, the executives who pioneered emotional automation. He devoured course material on how they expanded Tone Def Corporation's reach to all sectors of emotional manipulation. Not a single Fortune 10,000 company could exist without their help in selling products. They pioneered unfocus grouping, the technique of bombarding people with sights, sounds and opinions until they were too overwhelmed and would buy anything. In this fugue, they would throw their hands up and surrender money.
Hmmm... what had happened to Higgins? He had hoped he could apprentice under him. There was always rumors he was galavanting off on some island with his trillions. But the all-staff memos Brand-N received at work were still written by Higgins, so he must come back to HQ regularly...
The joys he once felt working in the Emotional Manipulation Marketing Department fizzled by the 8th month. During his grueling six-hour work days, he was never once congratulated or celebrated. He never even got a single cookie cake!
He hungered for larger projects. The team in the suite next to his was prototyping musical manipulation on a national scale and had recently overthrown the government of Cuba in what would be dubbed the Bachata Revolution. How thrilling to move the hearts and minds of millions!
But all he got was dull work.
He spent three months piloting a program that used social media and songs to manipulate a subset of Grips to change their toilet-wiping behavior. The new behavior was inferior but it would create more chaffing and help increase sales for their French client, Anale-Eez Balm. His division's informal slogan was “Have a product? We'll create the problem!”
For a moment, he felt a pang of guilt. When he was home, he savored nothing more than his moments atop his Triple Geyser BidetTM which shot water from Tahiti mixed with epsom salt and cold brew coffee up through his two anal sphincters with a blast big enough to clean out his large intestine.
Brand-N shuddered to think of the inhumanity of his childhood. He used to have to wipe his own ass!
What a cruel world!
How many times would bits of his fecal matter end up on his hand? And no matter how aggressively he washed, that shit smell still lingered. Now he could sit on his ruby-encrusted throne and never have to abdicate by being forced to bow, reach or wipe.
But his guilt faded as he remembered, this is just a normal part of humanity's progress. During the Middle Ages, the kings and queens of Europe, humanity's most revered nobles, strained their infallible butts over chamber pots, which they let simmer under their beds, festering with fleas and disease. And without indoor plumbing, they bathed only monthly and coated their bodies in talcum powder and oil in an attempt to suffocate the lice that crawled all over them. Though he may be hurting the Grips he manipulates, he's helping the greater body of humanity find superior wiping protocols.
As he sat on the bench, these memories retreated and the light of his 366 th dawn crept on him, he realized he should crawl home. Work would begin in another few hours. The morning breeze sent a whiff of coffee and cinnamon buns past his nose, triggering synchronized wave activity in his mind to link his neural networks to conjure a happy memory.
He remembers his first day of work, as he was ushered on a company golf cart through Def Corporation's headquarters in the Burj Bab-El. When he entered the 3,000-foot tall tower, he was star-struck by a giant hologram of Def Corp's first and most prominent early acquisition, Cyndi Mayweather, singing. He paused to watch the image twirl above him, remembering how his mom had worshipped her. How she had dressed as Cyndi each Halloween and listened to her music while working out, grunting to herself “I will be skinny like Cyndi.”
As he walked to the elevators, he wondered. What ever happened to Cyndi? She must be in her 60's, long past prime female age. She probably faded away with her fortune before her LFD.
LFD was the Last Fuckable Day, when women were no longer seen as desirable and therefore, no longer had value in a society run by men.
* * *
But I was still there, beating through the very heart of the building. My software system ran the algorithms of the corporation, pulling the emotional strings of billions of humans. And Brand-N would see me moments before I killed him.
* * *
As the memory faded, he stood to walk to home, now feeling a sense of sweet surrender to his slow plod up the corporate ladder.
*Ring, Ring, Ring*
That infernal sound chimed in his brain as a prominent work message flashed.
“Summoned? To the executive suite? This morning!” He thought as his retinas scanned the message. “What's this all about?”
Brand-N had little time to think as he raced home to shower, change and abandon another day to Def Corporation.